YPSILANTI, Mich. - The Ball State men's basketball team posted its sixth straight victory and improved to 4-0 in Mid-American Conference play as the Cardinals downed Eastern Michigan 60-51 Wednesday night at the Convocation Center. Three different Cardinals reached double figures and nine different Cardinals scored in the victory to improve Ball State to 12-4 on the year.
Ball State is off to its best start (12-4) since the 1997-98 season and is 4-0 in league play for the first time since 2003-04. The Cardinals' six-game winning streak is also their longest since winning six in a row during the 2001-02 season.
"Eastern Michigan has been a tough place for us to play and we have struggled in recent years against EMU so for us to come in tonight and get a road victory was especially good for our ball club," head coach Billy Taylor said. "Tonight was a hard-fought, physical game and our guys showed a lot of character to find a way to win on the road."
Junior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) led the Cardinals with 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half as he battled foul trouble in the first half. Jones connected on 6-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-6 in the opening frame and grabbed eight rebounds.
Ball State's defense was strong throughout the contest as it limited Eastern Michigan to just 31.7 percent (19-of-60) shooting from the field and only 15.0 percent (3-of-20) from long range. The Cardinals also controlled the glass as they held a 41-32 advantage on the glass. Senior forward Malik Perry (Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia Lutheran) aided the Cardinals' inside attack as he scored seven points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
The two teams played a close first half with Eastern Michigan holding a 16-14 lead just under 10 minutes into the game. The Cardinals took the lead for good with a 7-1 run to take a 23-17 lead. Freshman forward Chris Bond (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) scored six of the points in the run as he was 3-of-3 form the field in the first half.
The Cardinals maintained the lead heading into halftime holding a 27-21 edge. Ball State connected on 50 percent (11-of-22) from the field, including 2-of-4 from three-point land. The Cardinals only hit 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) from the free throw line in the first half and committed eight turnovers.
Bond led the Cardinals with six points while Perry grabbed seven rebounds and scored four points. Jones was hampered by three first half fouls as he only played eight minutes in the opening frame.
Eastern Michigan connected on just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) from the field and just 14.3 percent (2-of-14) from long range. Brandon Bowdry led the Eagles with 13 points in the first half as he was 5-of-10 from the field and was the only EMU play with more than one first half field goal.
Eastern Michigan (4-13, 1-3 MAC) opened the second half with the first basket as Bowdry nailed a jumper to pull EMU within four points. The Cardinals answered right back as sophomore guard Jauwan Scaife (Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central) hit two straight three-pointers to take the lead back to nine at 33-24.
The Cardinals controlled the tempo for most of second half as they extended their lead to 53-41 with 2:57 left. Eastern Michigan made a late run with full court pressure as it scored seven straight to make it a 53-48 contest. The Cardinals weathered the storm and responded with five straight points from the charity stripe as Jones and Scaife hit a pair to secure the victory.
Ball State finished the game shooting 48.8 percent (21-of-43) from the field and hit 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from long range. The Cardinals continued to reach the free throw line as they tallied 24 attempts but hit a MAC-season low 58.3 percent (14-of-24) from the line.
Junior guard Randy Davis (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) had a strong all-around performance as he scored 11 points, dished out six assists and grabbed four rebounds in 29 minutes. Scaife rounded out the Cardinals' double figure scorers as he added 10 points and four rebounds.
Eastern Michigan was led by Bowdry's game-high 26 points and six rebounds. He was the only EMU player to score over five points. He hit 10-of-24 from the field and 2-of-5 from long range in the loss.
The Cardinals continue their two-game road swing Saturday evening as they travel to Toledo to take on the Rockets. Game time is set for 7 p.m.